Post 2

the thing about being a working mother is that it gives you clarity about both the challenges and the benefits. my helper, Baby, is soon going to be grandmother to the child born to her son and daughter-in-law. This young woman, only about 18 years old, not finished school and currently not working, doesn’t have any income of her own and won’t qualify for any maternity leave. her young husband doesn’t have regular work either.

she’s been getting pains atypical of a five month pregnancy. on the weekend, they were so worrisome, she went to Mount Hope, a public hospital, to seek a doctor’s care. She and baby waited nine hours to see a doctor. the doctor listened to the baby’s heartbeat, took blood from both arms, gave her an injection (Baby can’t say of what) and sent her home with a note enabling her to get an ultrasound five days later. 5 days!! I’m not convinced that they got results from the bloodwork before the injection, but at least she heard the heart beating. Still, I couldn’t wait 5 days for an ultrasound….but what if I had to?

when i was pregnant, i was putting in 10 and 11 hour days when i was in my final trimester (especially in my final trimester, but more about that in another post) and taught until 8pm the night before i went into three days of labour before giving birth, a week early, on the fourth day (more about the labour in another post too, i had the baby in the driveway because my midwives believed i wasnt in labour those three spasming days…ah what you learn in retrospect).

apparantly, you are not supposed to work up until birth (so says national insurance board) but only up to a month before. yet, like many mothers, i wanted the most time after the birth because of the short maternity leave allowed by law (only three months with full pay! MORE on this in another post). so i worked, knowing that i had access to paid maternity leave, that i would have a job upon my return and that my paycheque also allowed me to access private care and an additional two months of leave without pay.

every doctor visit cost between TT$400 and $800 depending on the doctor and the tests done. i had a visit almost every month. plus, i began to see a midwife at the birth centre mamatoto and those visits were $100 to $200, plus birth classes ($800), plus an almost $10 000 birth (despite being in the driveway). i paid for every cost myself. i was proud i could. i worked – hard – for every dollar i earned and i could look after the health of my baby because of it. at every doctor visit, i had an ultrasound, i heard my baby’s heart beating its own rhythm, i saw that heart shining like a star in her chest, i saw her body curve and move. that reassurance was priceless.

that’s why tonight, my thoughts are with Baby’s young daughter-in-law who is likely to be praying to any force in the universe to make her baby safe and healthy. that’s what i would be doing. i’d be wishing so hard, it would encompass my whole mind and being, and i’d be in deep vibrational meditation without even realising it as i went about my day. she’s probably putting her faith in that injection, impatiently wondering what the blood results will say and counting the minutes until the ultrasound…five long days away.

in these moments, a working mother appreciates…working. for the pay, the power, the peace of mind it can bring. tonight, i’m thinking of non-working mothers, those young and without a job, without a union, without benefits. those who wait nine hours on a saturday to see a doctor and get back home after 10pm, who get injections without quite knowing what they are or why, who go home with deferred questions, perhaps not even knowing what to ask. those without the independence to get private care when they need an answer, an image, an ultrasound right away.

i’ve given her my ‘expecting’ books and i’ve offered next time she gets those pains to get her to my doctor, but for all the other women in this republic and in the world, i’m wishing you and your baby are perfectly perfectly alright, even if you are still waiting to do the tests and to go home reassured from the results they bring.